Australia-Solomon Islands Business Forum
With over 120 delegates and business enthusiasts attending, the eighth Australia Solomon Islands Business Forum was successfully held on Friday 22 July in Brisbane. The event had the Hon. Manessah Sogavare MP, Prime Minister of Solomon Islands setting the tone for the Forum in his opening remarks where he touched on a few vital areas such as the importance of a level playing field where competition was encouraged and rules were transparent.
The theme for the Forum this year "Continuing on the Path to Sustainable Economic Development" was acknowledged by most of the speakers who covered a range of topics ranging from private sector reforms to women empowerment during the one-day event. Participants actively engaged on topics surrounding key policy reforms that are essential for sustainable private sector growth. These included the high cost of doing business, particularly the punitive tax system that could serve as a deterrent for foreign investment, the lack of skilled labour and accessibility to land for businesses.
The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry which represents the vast business community has taken upon themselves to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Solomon Islands for a more consultative approach for these reform issues. Presenters also provided insights on public private partnerships, assessment of the current business and economic environment in comparison to neighbouring countries, infrastructure and resource industry.
With a healthy foreign reserve position, growing private sector credit and various opportunities yet to be tapped in Solomon Islands, the economic indicators have been positive only to be further boosted by PACER Plus and other investment opportunities that the country has to offer.
Visit to Australia by Hon Bartholomew Parapolo, Minister for Tourism
We had the pleasure of a one-on-one workshop with the Minister and his team during a visit to Sydney recently (nice photo!). There is plenty going on in the Solomon Islands tourism front at the moment including the following –
- Creation of a new national Tourism Policy, which is shortly to go to Cabinet for ratification. The policy is aimed at clarifying the immediate direction and focus for the tourism sector in Solomon Islands with a view to the creation of initiatives which will demonstrate locally the potentially enormous positive impact tourism can have in developing economies;
- A new legislative framework for tourism which is hoped to pass through Parliament and then be gazetted in early 2017
- The creation of a taskforce focused on the identification and marketing of specific investment opportunities for overseas investors to consider. This is a particularly exciting initiative.